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Newborn baby choppered from Norwich to King’s for life-saving treatment

A newborn baby whose liver and heart were failing was rushed by helicopter from Norfolk to King’s College Hospital, writes Kit Heren…

Oakley Miles-Slade was born in Norwich at the end of January and soon became unwell, with a liver condition causing heart failure, among other life-threatening conditions.

Five-day-old Oakley needed to be transferred to King’s urgently for specialist treatment. A four-hour car journey may have been too but the helicopter that would have taken him was out of service.

The Norwich coastguard was contacted to fly Oakley down to London to King’s, landing on the Camberwell hospital’s 24-hour helipad after a 45-minute flight.

Meanwhile his parents were also travelling to King’s separately. Oakley’s father, Lewis Slade, said, “It has been very difficult to see our new baby so unwell but you just have to trust in the professionals. It’s amazing how they all worked together to get Oakley the care he needed.

“Since being treated at King’s, Oakley’s kidney function has returned to normal, meaning he has not required dialysis, and he has been brought off the ventilator and is now breathing for himself. We know it will be a while before we can take him home but we’d like to thank everyone involved in helping our son,” he said.

Dr Thomas Bycroft, Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Children’s Acute Transport Service (CATS) at Great Ormond Street Hospital said: “I was incredibly proud to be part of the Children’s Acute Transport Service (CATS) on call that night, which helped get Oakley the urgent care he needed from the team at King’s.

“Bringing the skills of specialised nurses and intensive care doctors on the road – by land or air – and to the bedside of critically ill children can make all the difference in situations like this. Each year the team enables the safe transfer of around 1,200 sick babies and children from 50 hospitals in the North Thames and East Anglia regions to specialist hospitals in London and Cambridge.

“The specialist advice we can provide during the transfer also goes a long way to ensure a smooth transition into a paediatric intensive care setting, which gives children like Oakley the best chance of survival.”

“Our Paediatric Liver Centre is a national hub providing a highly specialised service to children with liver problems,” added Dr Akash Deep, Clinical Lead for Paediatric Intensive Care at King’s, who took the phone call for help.

“We are the largest service of its type in the world so we knew we had the expertise to care for baby Oakley. He had a benign diffuse liver tumour (hemangioendothelioma), which required coil embolisation of blood vessels as the excess blood supply through the arteriovenous malformation (AVM), was causing heart failure and acute kidney injury.”


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